A 120-year-old bronze engraving plate used for printing currency that was lifted as a souvenir by a U.S. soldier in 1951 from Deoksu Palace, will be coming home to Korea tomorrow.
This following a three year investigation after the family of the soldier, who died in 2010, used a Michigan gallery to auction it –even though the gallery was warned by a U.S. State Department official that it was illegal to sell stolen cultural relics.
The plate ended up getting bought by a South Korean man, Yoon Won-young, who was then residing in America, for a reported $35,000.
After the U.S. tipped off the South Korean embassy of the plate, as well as other cultural relics being auctioned, Yoon shrugged off any patriotic inclinations he might have and rejected a South Korean request to return the 1.5 lb plate to its rightful place in Seoul .
Yoon would have been better off doing the right thing, but no, U.S. authorities arrested him in January (along with a representative of the gallery) and confiscated the plate.
Neither the gallery rep nor Yoon were officially charged, but Yoon was discovered to be living illegally in the U.S. and booted back home to, I would imagine, a displeased ROK government .
Smooth move, Mr. Yoon.